NEW DELHI: Lufthansa’s 10 weekly flights between Frankfurt and India will now take a crew change halt in Bahrain from Sunday (May 16), instead of Dubai. The change has been necessitated due to UAE restrictions on passengers from India who were transiting via Dubai up till now. Lufthansa flies between Frankfurt and Delhi (four times weekly), Mumbai (3 weekly) and Bengaluru (3 weekly).
George Ettiyil, Lufthansa Group Airlines’ senior director for South Asia, said: “By swiftly and flexibly adapting to rapidly changing conditions we are able to continue operating all Lufthansa flights to and from India as scheduled. This is particularly important in these difficult times. Our flights to Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, like the few connections of other airlines, are vital for essential passenger travel and freight shipments to and from India.”
Lufthansa Group, including Swiss, flights to India are bringing urgent Covid relief material like “tonnes of medical goods containing vaccines, respirators and oxygen concentrators with more to come.” The change from Dubai to Bahrain was “made due to new United Arab Emirates regulations that restrict flights between India and Dubai for passengers who were transiting there up to now for operational reasons,” says a Lufthansa official.
The German major has added the crew change halt for its India non-stops to ensure its pilots and cabin crew do not require a lay over in the Covid-ravaged country. One set of crew operates from Frankfurt to Gulf; another set from the Gulf to Delhi/Mumbai/Bengaluru and back to Gulf and then a third set will operate the aircraft — a Boeing 747-8 these days — back to Germany.
As a result, the about 7-hour journey between Frankfurt and Delhi/Mumbai will now take over 9 hours. And the 11-hour flight between Frankfurt and Bengaluru will take about 13 hours now. Passengers will remain seated inside the aircraft during crew change. For this duration flight, a B747 has 2-3 pilots and over 15 cabin crew.
Lufthansa will be operating quick turnaround flights from India. The crew will stay inside the aircraft while in Delhi/Mumbai/Bengaluru and fly back to Dubai. Indian aviation ministry has been getting requests from several airlines to exempt pilots operating international flights from RT-PCR tests, which is not allowed as per current norms here. However, it made an exception for crew of QTA international flights who do not alight from aircraft.
“Considering that cockpit crew remain within aircraft in a sterile environment of the flight deck and the cabin crew are protected by PPE, these crew operating international QTA flights are exempted from RT-PCR test on arrival at Indian airports,” says an order issued by the aviation ministry last month.